Think you’ve tried every non-surgical way to remove stretch marks? These time tested tips might change your mind – and the look of those pesky marks you’d rather not display.
Why Are Stretch Marks So Hard to Remove?
The skin is a self-repairing organ. Cuts and scrapes heal. Dark under eye circles can be lightened. Wrinkles can be plumped out and even partially eliminated. So what is it about stretch marks that makes them so hard to get rid of?
Unfortunately, stretch marks – or technically, striae – actually ARE the healing aspect of the skin having been stretched. The skin contains protein fibers, including collagen and elastin, that have a certain amount of “give.” Like a piece of elastic, they allow the skin to stretch. But, also similar to elastic, when they’ve been stretched beyond their capacity, breaks occur.
The skin heals these breaks, resulting in what could technically be called striae … but which many people – both men and women – call an exercise in frustration attempting to get rid of them.
Types of Stretch Marks
Technically, there is only one type of striae. However, they may appear as any of the following:
- Pink to dark red
- Shallow or deep depressions in the skin
- Sagging of the area
So What’s the Good News?
If you have stretch marks, don’t lose hope. Although most skin experts say stretch marks are fully healed within six months to a year of their initial appearance (but leave faded white scars), women have reported improvements with some very surprising methods.
Obviously, cosmetic procedures, such as microdermabrasion, can physically replace the skin, making it smoother and making stretch marks less noticeable. So can various chemical/cosmetic means. Some skin creams work as well, though none will completely erase marks. But there is good news – if you’re looking for natural stretch mark removal methods, they are available, and it’s not just hype.
Here are the best natural methods to help reduce the look of stretch marks.
Exfoliation is the removal of the top layer of skin, as well as dead skin cells, by gentle scrubbing. This does two things: it makes the skin immediately look and feel smoother, and it stimulates the skin cells to replace what has been lost in the exfoliation process.
When skin turnover rate – newer cells being created – increases, a healing effect begins. The skin, in effect, is on “reparative overdrive” but in a natural way. This means repair of even older stretch marks may be seen.
A loofah sponge is the best way to exfoliate the skin. Gently rub the area over the stretch marks in circular motions, moving outward in an increasingly large circle. Do this for five minutes per area, three times a week. Follow up with a good moisturizer.
Skin repair takes time, so give this method 4-6 weeks to see results.
Brown Sugar Scrub
This is another method of exfoliating – and it’s a very luxurious one! Brown sugar granules are a gentle abrasive when rubbed on the skin. Done correctly, regular brown sugar scrubs can encourage new cell growth and lighten the appearance of stretch marks.
Put ½ cup brown sugar into a bowl. Begin adding water a tablespoon at a time. “Mush” the water into the brown sugar with your fingers. When you have a paste, begin gently rubbing the scrub onto your skin in circular motions. This method is very gentle, so take your time and rub for as much as five minutes per area.
You can perform this method up to three times a week; it should not harm your skin. However, if you find your skin to be sensitive after the scrubs, reduce them to 1-2 times per week.
Citric acid is well known for lightening the skin and hair. (Remember when putting lemon juice on the hair to produce “sun streaks” was all the rage in middle and high school?)
Citric acid is a respected ingredient in the cosmetics industry, too. It can frequently be found in sun spot and age spot lightening products, and in skin tone eveners.
You can get this effect by using lemons, which are high in citric acid. However, DO NOT use straight lemon juice. It may sting and even produce a burning sensation, and could damage the skin. Instead, squeeze a lemon and mix a scant ½-tsp. amount into one half ounce of your favorite skin moisturizing lotion. Apply to areas that have stretch marks. Do this method twice a week. Results may be seen in as little as three to four weeks.
Vitamin C is a popular ingredient in cosmetic preparations due to both its health boosting properties to the skin, and its lightening effects.
Look for a skin cream or lotion that contains vitamin C. If you have sensitive skin, be sure the preparation you choose states that it is gentle. You can generally use vitamin C lotions twice per day.
Believe it or not, the natural constituents of potato juice may lighten dark areas of the skin. Do this method when you have a few minutes to lie down and allow the product to work, as it is sticky and can be runny. Consider this your “spa time”.
Make your potato juice by grating one half to one whole red or white potato into a bowl. Take the grated potato out of the bowl, place it in a colander and hold over the bowl. Cover the potato shreds with a clean cloth and press down. You will see a liquid coming out through the colander. (In fact, you may have pressed potato shreds in the past in order to make firm potato pancakes!)
Lie back and dip a cosmetic sponge into the bowl of potato juice. Now dab the sponge all over areas where you have stretch marks. Grab your Kindle or your earphones and some great music and relax for 15-20 minutes. When the time is up, shower or rinse off the potato juice. Follow up with a good moisturizer
You can safely use this method three times per week.
Are These All Just Old Wives’ Tales?
No. Each of the above methods has science behind it. We’ve given only a brief overview of the mechanisms of each due to space constraints in this article, but there is plenty of research on each showing exactly what they can do for your skin – and potentially, for your stretch marks.
Before resorting to expensive dermatological procedures, try these natural methods. Remember, natural methods of skin improvement may take up to 6 weeks to show results, so give each this time frame before deciding if it’s the right method for you.